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The Work Room March 2015 Topic: Young, Gifted and Black

collegestudentsMarch is a time where the culture of college life takes center stage; from Spring Breaks to NCAA basketball, we’re reminded of the days of being wide-eyed and full of energy on our respective campuses! And for many of us, those memories bring back a period of time that really shaped who we are. College can be such a formative experience where our ideas our challenged, our freedom takes on new levels, and we are exposed to new ways to look at life. For Black young adults, the college experience can take on many different forms. Did you go to an HBCU? Or maybe you joined the Black Student Union at a predominately White institution? Did halls of ivy make up your campus experience? Remembering your glory days, share some of your best college experiences with us inside the work room!

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17 thoughts on “The Work Room March 2015 Topic: Young, Gifted and Black

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  2. I attended the College of the Holy Cross located west of Boston in the city of Worcester. During my time on “the hill” I majored in English as well as played Varsity division 1AA football. If you know anything about private catholic colleges, you should know and ultimately assume that the student body is predominantly Caucasian. As a Jesuit institution, we were not permitted to have Greek life on campus which consequently led to many of our ethnic students having difficulty finding community on the school due to the absence of black fraternities and sororities. That being said, I eventually came to terms with my school’s demographic and learned to appreciate the world class education I was receiving. One of my most memorable moments at on the hill was when we the my team came to watch me perform at a little coffee shop show, where I was playing and singing songs that night. It was a serendipitous moment to see everyone; black, white, Asian and Latino come together under one accord.

  3. I attended a PWI. Some of my best experiences as an underclassmen were the 2-3 hour lunch and dinner conversations with my fellow black classmates. These extended conversations allowed me to hear and learn different perspectives on a variety of often random but interesting topics. My experiences at college were made by the people I placed around me and I wouldn’t have traded that.

  4. I attended a predominately White institution and was very active on my campus. I served on the Executive Board of my Black Student Union to include being President. Of all the things I was involved in on campus, The Black Student Union and other multicultural groups and organizations really shaped my undergraduate experience. These groups served as a voice for the students of color on campus and as a vehicle for them to grow and define their knowledge and skills. Like I am sure students at other PWIs, our campus faced fair amount of racial challenges which brought about tensions between students and administration. These groups allowed us to facilitate thought provoking discussion and come together to pursue our interests.

    When I was applying to undergrad, one of my mentors discouraged my applying to an HBCU because of how it lacked mirroring the real world in terms of racial distribution which could also imply differences in other areas of distribution. Despite their advice I did apply to an HBCU, got accepted but did not choose to attend. I always think back on how different of a person I would have been if Inwould have chose to go. Though I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate experience, I feel as though I spent it fighting to prove myself, always, for reasons that were driven by race, gender and financial status. I always wondered if I chose to go to the HBCU how I would be different as a person.

  5. I went to Spelman and am grateful for my undergraduate experiences. Although I did not pledge, I feel Spelman is one big sorority in itself. Wherever I am, there’s an immediate bond that I have when I come across someone who has graduated from one of the Atlanta University Center schools (or other HBCUs for that matter!). The Black school experience is one of a kind, instilling a sense of Black pride and self love that was crucial for shaping my identity. From attending a protest march in Alabama with my best friend and tailgating at Homecoming to learning about the African Diaspora in our mandatory freshmen coursework and representing Spelman in cross country races throughout the Southeastern US, I had numerous memorable experiences.

    Beyond my social experiences, the coursework and summer internships that I was exposed to helped prepare me, both mentally and academically, for my graduate school education. I had amazing professors that pushed me to think outside of the box and dream without restrictions.

    Certainly one of the most exciting and fulfilling points of my life thus far and I am tremendously grateful for the wonderful women I met and close friendships that I formed.

  6. I went to a PWI, although it’s not an Ivy League institution, it has world class recognition. I enjoyed my experience and I noticed that the Black students sought each other out. From the “I see you” head knods while walking on campus, to community building based on race/ethnicity with the different affinity student groups irregardless of class. Undergrad was also my first experience with upper middle class Black people. A whole world I didn’t even know existed. I think we didn’t divide our community by class (the first generation students were best friends with the cardiologists sons and daughters). Undergrad challenged my perception of Blackness and helped me to form a strong Black identity. I would choose my PWI all over again if given the chance to redo my experience.

  7. I didnt make friends at orientation so when I transfered schools, I knew no one on campus or in my dorm. My mom was the only person I had helping me move in, until a young brother came over to us, introduced himself and helped me move in the rest of my stuff. I’ve never met this man in my life until then
    He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. This was my first introduction to Greek life…

    1. Was Greek life big at your school? I joined AKA as an undergrad and our experiences in Boston, where the network is much smaller, is very unique compared to other places!

  8. I went to an Ivy League school where black students were about 7% of the population, so we were a tight knit group. You knew who everyone was in each class year, always looked up to the seniors until you were one. At that point, we had to start looking out for the people who were coming after us by spreading the word about resources, jobs, etc. We created events, hosted timely conversations, (celebrated when Obama was elected :P) etc.

    I was able to fully take advantage of the opportunity to connect with the black community by getting involved. Performing arts were big at my school, and the black arts dance company was a huge part of my identify while in college. It was my way of connecting with people, branching out, and living a fulfilling life in a stressful environment.

    I still say college years were some of the most fun and rewarding years of my life. My only regret was not getting Michelle Obama to come back and speak for our graduation :).

    1. Thanks for sharing Adetola! In some ways it was a similar situation for me in terms of most of the Black population knowing each other, but my campus was a little less tight knit — most people kind of did their own thing. But that type of environment forced me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to explore what I was passionate about and in that way I was able to grow

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